The Dallas Mavericks will likely be without reserve center Brendan Haywood when they play the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the 2011 NBA Finals on Sunday night. He is listed as a game-time decision with a strained hip flexor, but the team will prepare as though he will not see the court.
How will the Mavericks compensate if Haywood is unable to play? The 6-foot-11 Ian Mahinmi could see extensive time as Tyson Chandler's backup, but he averaged less than nine minutes per game in the regular season and 3.1 points. In the postseason, he's played in just three games.
The alternative is playing with a smaller lineup, but SB Nation Dallas points out what happened to the Mavericks when they did that in Game 2:
[...] the last stretch during which Dallas went without a center was the early part of the fourth quarter in Game two. They found the lead stretched from four to 15 points during those five minutes. They went back to Chandler and immediately began their comeback.
A smaller lineup or the untested Mahinmi, the Mavericks will need someone to step up on defense when Chandler is on the bench.